Join us for the Tokyo launch event of the AgFunder SIJ Impact Fund! ( May 11, 2022 18:00-20:30)

On May 11, 2022 Agfunder co-founder Michael Dean and John Friedman, Director of AgFunder Asia, will be coming to Tokyo for the launch event of the new AgFunder SIJ Impact Fund. The Fund had its first close in March 2022 at $10 million USD, with Meiji Holdings and Asahi as the anchor investors. The launch event will include a discussion of the rapidly growing global and Japanese food and agritech investment scene, as well as a chance to meet and socialize with agrifood tech enthusiasts. The event will be held in person at CIC Tokyo with online participation also welcome. Please join us! Register at the link below.

Accelerating Sustainable Food and Agriculture Innovation for the Future

Time:  May 11, 2022, 18:00-20:30(Seminar 18:00-19:30, Networking 19:30-20:30)

Registration:  https://agritechevent.peatix.com/

Location: CIC Tokyo (Online participants will be able to join the seminar by Zoom link.)

Charge: Free

Capacity: The in-person event is limited to 50 participants but online participation is always welcome

Seminar Topics: The global agritech and food tech scene, Japan’s position in the global market, AgFunder’s activities in Asia and the role of its GROW Impact Accelerator, the development of the AgFunder SIJ Impact Fund

This event is hosted by SDG Impact Japan with the support of AgFunder and Meros Consulting.

About the AgFunder SIJ Impact Fund: The AgFunder SIJ Impact Fund is a joint vehicle of sustainable investment  company SDG Impact Japan and Singapore-based VC AgFunder Asia Pte Ltd. (AgFunder Group. The agritech and foodtech investment fund will invest globally in promising agrifood tech start-ups who are addressing the most critical sustainability challenges in the global food system. Start-ups of interest include those advancing a more sustainable food system by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, mitigating food loss, improving soil and crop monitoring and increasing efficiency and productivity through biotechnology and digitalization. The Fund also aims to connect Japanese agri-food start-ups with overseas investors and will assist overseas start-ups in expanding their businesses into Japan and throughout the Asia Pacific. The fund made its first close in March 2022 at $10 million USD, with Japanese food conglomerate Meiji Holdings and brewery major Asahi Group Holdings as the anchor investors.

CBD, Hemp Fiber, Seeds and Oil: Meros – USDA report series on Japan’s market for hemp-derived products released

Anyone exploring the shops and cafes of Japan’s major cities in the past two years has certainly noticed the explosion of CBD products on retail shelves, online shops and in a growing number of cafes. CBD consumer products range from tinctures and gummies to cosmetics and even pet products, some imported and some manufactured in Japan using CBD raw materials primarily from the U.S., China and the EU.

While CBD products are a major current trend, interest in the Japanese market for a variety of hemp-derived products has grown dramatically in the past few years.Hemp seed and hemp seed oil appear poised for growth in the Japanese health food sector; longer term, there may be opportunities for hemp fiber in construction, insulation and plastic.

Meros recently teamed up with the U.S. Embassy Japan to develop a series of reports on the Japanese market and import regulations for hemp-derived products, to serve as a resource for U.S. exporters planning their business development in Japan.  The 2018 U.S. Farm bill  legalized the production of industrial hemp in the U.S., defined any cannabis plant or derivative thereof, that contains not more than 0.3 percent delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) on a dry-weight basis. This authorization of production in the U.S. has brought optimism that a new commodity crop can be developed in the U.S., with a wide range of uses in industrial, feed and wellness markets and potential for export to global markets.

While Japan has a long history of hemp cultivation, today Japan’s domestic hemp use is mainly limited to fiber for traditional uses linked to the Shinto religion, such as shimenawa ropes decorating shrines or the belts of top ranked sumo champions. To grow cannabis in Japan, a cultivation license is necessary and as of 2019 there were only 35 licensed cannabis cultivators, primarily in Tochigi Prefecture, and a total of 9 hectares under cultivation. There is little expectation that this number will increase in the near term.

And yet industrial hemp has a wide potential range of uses in Japan from seeds for human and animal consumption, fiber for use in apparel, building insulation, plastics and construction materials to hemp extracts such as CBD and other cannabinoids in cosmetics and wellness products.  It is expected that these raw materials will need to be imported to Japan; this makes it essential for potential hemp product suppliers to have a deep un

Under Japan’s legal regulatory framework, the Cannabis Control Act bans importation of “cannabis”. The Act defines ‘cannabis’ as “the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa L.) and its products. However, mature cannabis stalks and products made from stalks (excluding resin, which is illegal), as well as cannabis seeds and products made from the seeds are excluded from this legal definition of “cannabis”. Japan has a zero-tolerance level for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in any product.

The Cannabis Control Act does not explicitly mention THC, however, in practice, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) interprets the presence of THC in a product to mean that parts of the cannabis plant other than mature stalks or seeds were used.Unacceptable parts include flowers, buds, leaves, immature stalks, or roots.

Exporting hemp products to Japan, therefore, requires various documentation and administrative steps in order to comply with the import regulations for legal hemp products.

In this new series of reports, Meros not only looks at the current market dynamics of each product category, but also examples of the import flow and documentation required for hemp fiber, hemp seed, hemp seed oil, CBD and hemp extract products.

Further regulatory changes are expected Japan’s hemp product market in the coming years, so success as a supplier to Japan’s hemp product markets will require on-going observation of the changing dynamics of each market and potential changes in regulation. As always, strong relationships with importers and partners in Japan will be critical for suppliers to navigate these dynamic markets.

The series of reports can be found at the following links:

The Japanese Market for Hemp Fiber

The Japanese Market for Hemp Seed and Hemp Seed Oil Products

The Japanese Market for CBD and Hemp Extracts

Happy New Year from Meros! (and a quick update on where we are!)

Happy 2021 to all our friends, clients and associates!

The corona pandemic this past year has forced us to pivot, to improvise, to adapt …but after an initial scramble to get all our online tools in place, we believe this year has been opportunity to try new approaches, to innovate and to ultimately become a stronger company than ever.

2020 only demonstrated more clearly than ever the need for strong, flexible and sustainable food and ag supply chains. Impactful investments in food and agri technologies and partnerships with smart and innovative start-ups are more essential than ever for our clients and partners.

Although we have not been able to travel as much as we used to, Meros continues to provide strong support for our clients and partners by fully utilizing the domestic and overseas networks we have developed over the years.

We hope all our clients and network have also been able to find opportunities in the chaos and we look forward to helping you all as you prepare to move forward.

We look forward to working with you again in this upcoming Year of the Cow!

Note: Team Meros’ response to the Dec 2020 State of Emergency (SOE) in Japan

Meros is making every effort to prevent the spread of infection within our global team and our local communities.  We encourage remote work for all employees and emphasize good ventilation and disinfection in our offices.  In Tokyo we expect all of our team to work remotely at least three days a week and encourage fully remote when possible.

Our company phones are still open, but email will be the fastest and most reliable way to contact us. We look forward to talking to you online!